Burgos Cathedral is known for its majesty and beauty. It stands imposingly in the middle of the city, as if everything around it was its own. A unique and unrepeatable jewel that has been on the Unesco list as a World Heritage Site since 1984. And it is one of those buildings that when you know it you cannot stop looking.
The history of the cathedral of Burgos
King Alfonso IV of León was the one who first had the idea of building a cathedral in this place, where there used to be a small palace. We are talking about the 11th century and a temple that must have been Romanesque, because little is known about it.
This cathedral would soon be too small for so many parishioners. Thus, at the beginning of the 13th century, plans began to be forged to build a new, much larger temple, the one we know today and which involved the demolition of the old cathedral.
By then Ferdinand III of Castile, known as the Saint, was already reigning. The first stone was laid in July 1221 and only 17 years later the head, part of the transept and the ships were finished.
The cathedral was consecrated in the year 1260, although a cult had already been celebrated a few years before. However, there were still auctions and extensions to be completed during the 13th century and part of the 14th.
What makes it different
One of the architects who worked on the works for the cathedral, Master Henry, was of French origin and seems to have been inspired by the Reims cathedral. However, the architecture of this temple is unique, so elegant and harmoniously beautiful that it is difficult to take your eyes off it.
Facade of Santa Maria
It is the main façade, in whose lower part the Façade of Santa María opens, which is used as access to the temple and has three jovial arches. It has three doors: the Real or the Perdón, which is the central one; and those of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception, which are slightly smaller on the sides of the first.
On the two side doors there are two towers that, if at first glance they seem identical, they are not. These have pilasters decorated with statues and pinnacles and several pointed openings on the sides.
When you surround the cathedral, each door, each facade, each detail, is more beautiful than the last. The exterior of the temple is full of impressive motifs, of stories told on the walls.
In this case, on the arch of this door, the archangel Michael is seen with a scale weighing the souls and at his side, the devil trying to unbalance it in his favor and with the condemned to hell behind him. A beautiful door from which you can access one of the most beautiful corners of the cathedral: the Golden Staircase.
Although the door is from the 13th century, it was renovated in the 18th century to replace some deteriorated Gothic elements with other Baroque ones that would make it more useful. For example, a mullion was exchanged for a semicircular arch.
The interior of the Burgos cathedral
If Burgos Cathedral is beautiful on the outside, inside there are no words to express what it contains. The Main Chapel stands out in the central nave, of which it occupies a large part. If its altarpiece is spectacular, the path of carved white marble columns that leads to it is no less so.
And at the bottom of the same nave, the Chapel of the Constables stands out. Its octagonal plan, its altarpieces, its vault and the tomb of the founders are real jewels. As are the many other chapels that can be seen inside the temple.
But there are many more treasures inside Burgos Cathedral. It is impossible to describe them all, but at least we will mention a few. It is worth stopping to admire the choir, the image of Santa María la Mayor, the transept, the dome, the double-structured trillared vault or the tomb of the Cid and his wife.
In short, visiting Burgos Cathedral is visiting one of the jewels of Spanish Gothic architecture, a magnificent building that will surprise you in every detail. If you visit the city, keep in mind that you will need time to admire this magnificent temple as it deserves.